KILLEEN (December 23, 2012)--Santa Claus is a busy man, so local U.S. Postal Service employees become elves during the holiday season, making sure letters to Santa are read and sometimes even wishes get granted.
For six-year-old Rayna Klutse and her younger sisters Victoria and Mariana, writing letters to Santa is one of the most exciting activities of the year.
"My favorite thing of writing letters to Santa is we get to draw pictures on them and tell them how much we want gifts," Klutse said.
Gifts on their wish list this year: dolls, jewelry and even a gorilla.
In order for those presents to be under the tree come Christmas morning, special helpers come to the rescue: elves of a different kind--not the ones at the North Pole but ones just down the street.
Mail carrier Andrea Herbert is one of those elves making sure these girls, and many kids across America, get their letters to the "Big Jolly Fella."
"It gives me a little warm fuzzy inside because I remember being that age and getting a little magazine and telling my mom and writing my letter," Herbert said.
Mail carriers like Herbert collects letters for Santa from children across Central Texas.
Then, a very experienced helper, Karen Weiss, makes sure Santa reads them.
Weiss has been with the U.S. Postal Service for 29 years, and every single one of those years she's worked very closely with Kris Kringle himself.
"To think of a little child that all they want to do is write Santa a letter and tell him they've been a good girl or boy and if they could get a response from Santa, anything, just a letter to know there's still some magic at Christmastime, that spurs me on to do whatever I can to get them a letter back in the mail," Weiss said.
Weiss sorts those letters according to wishes so that it's easier for Santa to make sure the wish list is complete.
Weiss said when she first started helping Santa 29 years ago, there would be only about a dozen Santa letters a year.
Now there's hundreds.
"Some of these are hilarious: 'Dear Santa, I've been good, and I only want a few things,' and they list like 34 things," Weiss laughs.
"Every now and then, you'll get a letter from a child who's ill or has a family member who's ill and just wants something for the other person."
If Santa can't grant a certain wish, then Herbert, Weiss and other mail carriers make sure some wishes still come true.
"Carriers would reach into their wallets, and we pull the money together and I'll go buy whatever we can," Weiss said.
While the USPS employees are doing their job, they're also working as elves delivering Christmas magic to those who are needing it most.
"There's so much negative in the world and so much evil and so much sadness, and for a child to have just a little moment of happy, a little moment of there's still hope and people who care," Weiss said when asked why she has been helping Santa for so long and on her own time and dime.